In 1919 Pyongyang, Jade is sold to Madam Silver who will train her as a courtesan. But when Madam Silver’s daughter, Luna is raped, she sends Luna, Lotus, and Jade to her cousin, Dani in Seoul to hide Luna’s pregnancy. Aunt Dani continues their training while JungHo heads south to Seoul in search of a better life after his father’s death. Under Japanese occupation, underground movements form in the hope of gaining independence.
This novel takes place over fifty years following the lives of these characters and Korea’s struggle to break free from Japan’s strangling grip.
With the invasion of the Japanese into China in 1937, students at Minghua University leave their campus and escape on foot inland. Each student carries an original volume of the Library of Legends — a 500 year old collection of Chinese myths. Among them is Lian who learns from a letter that her mother is headed to Shanghai, but it is safer for her to stay with her professors and students. They walk mostly at night to avoid being spotted by enemy aircraft and while she walks, Shao and Sparrow befriend her. When they start out, it seems like a adventure, but soon they encounter starving refugees, Japanese bomber planes and death.
Continue reading “Janie Chang’s — The Library of Legends *****”
Huong is the granddaughter of Grandma Dieu Lan who learns about the Tran family’s tragedies through her Grandmother. In the 1950s when the Land Reform committee arrived in their northern Vietnamese village, everything they own is stripped from the family and their lives are in danger. Grandma’s brother, Cong is murdered but the rest of the family escapes with help from a faithful employee. But Grandma is without money, and as she journeys to Hanoi, her children become separated. Once Grandma Dieu Lan has re-established her life, the U.S. war on Vietnam begins decades later and her home is destroyed by bombs. Can she start over again? Can she find her children missing once the war is over?
When I first began this book, I expected it to be like White chrysanthemum because both books focus on Haenyeo women of Jeju Island, South Korea, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. White Chrysanthemum lent towards comfort women while The island of sea women was about friendship among Haenyeo groups during the country’s turbulent times and the need to forgive.
Not only was the story a page turner, but the lives of these unique groups of women along Jeju’s coastline who support their families while the husbands stay home to care for their children was a fascinating background setting.